BEHAR — “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This ditty, often recited by kids when they are called names, is designed to protect a child from the meanness of other children. But, words, truth be told, are powerful weapons. Indeed, it would be more honest to chant: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can hurt me!” Children are especially vulnerable to the words of another. In our Torah portion this week we are enjoined “not to wrong one another”, meaning not hurt one another with words. Instead we are to consider...Read More
BECHUKOTAI — Most Americans have warm homes and enough to eat. Their children have many toys to play with. And yet, there are many people here in America and around the world who don’t have enough. Some of those people we pass on the street each day. Others are living in the margins in substandard housing or shelters. Children notice the discrepancies between those who have enough and those who don’t and try to make sense of it. Early on in their lives children can learn what it means to try to help those who don’t have enough. In this week’s...Read More
EMOR — We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves how important it is to be kind to one another. We speak about seeing each person’s humanity and treating others the way that we would want to be treated. But what happens when that “other” is not a person but an animal? We must remember that respect for the living creatures in this world is also an important value. This week’s Torah portion includes laws about properly treating animals. The very fact that these laws exist says a lot about Judaism’s appreciation of the role of animals in our...Read More
KI TISSA — We are each our own harshest critics. It is very easy to see our own flaws and what we could do better. We dwell on things in ourselves that others don’t even notice. But this does not prevent us also from seeing flaws in those around us. Often it is easy to focus on what is not as we would like. But these flaws, like veins in a beautiful gem, are what remind us that we are each unique creations. Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all perfect and no butterfly were...Read More
ROSH HASHANAH — Rosh Hashanah is perceived as the Jewish New Year, but it is so much more than that. It is time to reflect on the quality of relationships with friends and family and compare yourself to the way you were a year ago. Rosh Hashanah, according to the tradition, gives you a time to make amends to family and friends. Use the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah to go through a process of introspection and evaluation with your family, thinking and talking about habitual problems and conflicts that are difficult to change. Seeing other family members,...Read More
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